A dangerous fungus has been discovered in a Montreal district hospital

Health authorities said Thursday that a dangerous fungus known to be resistant to treatment was discovered earlier this month at a hospital in Longueuil, Kew, on Montreal’s south coast.

Since September 8, officials have identified two cases of patients carrying Candida auris at Pierre Boucher Hospital. However, neither of them had a serious yeast infection associated with the fungus. Officials said one of the patients – and their contacts – had been isolated.

Regional health spokeswoman Caroline Doucet says the hospital has instructed some staff to wear personal protective equipment, wash their hands frequently and use other disinfection measures. The health agency said Thursday that all patients who had close contact with the two cases have been tested, and the hospital remains safe for users.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Candida auris is an emerging fungus that is considered a serious threat to global health because it is often resistant to many antifungal drugs, difficult to identify with standard laboratory tests, and can lead to outbreaks in health-care settings.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said he was concerned about the presence of the pathogen in Quebec and asked federal public health officials to quickly gather information from provinces to get a better picture of the situation.

It’s very likely that more Candida auris is present than has been discovered, said Dr. Simon F. Dufresne, a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist who specializes in medical mycology, adding that the county has the right equipment to identify the different strains.

Dufresne said that experts in the identification of fungi have for about five years been expecting to identify cases in Canada. An article published by Public Health Canada in November 2018 warned doctors about the possible presence of Candida auris and called on authorities to report cases to health authorities.

The fungus was first identified about a decade ago, said Dr. Donald Finh, an infectious disease specialist and medical microbiologist at McGill University Health Center. People can carry Candida auris without realizing it because it is benign and does not cause symptoms, he said. But he added that it becomes a problem when it enters the bloodstream.

“When that happens, these patients are in trouble,” Vinh said, adding that people can become seriously ill, with symptoms such as fever, low blood pressure, respiratory problems and even organ failure.

Another major concern is that the fungus is resistant to currently known treatments. Vinh said there are four classes of antifungal drugs for humans, three of which are used frequently because the fourth has severe side effects. But Candida auris is resistant to all three frequently used treatments.

Health officials said a #dangerous mushroom was discovered in #Montreal District Hospital. #CandidaAuris

“We should move to more innovative treatments, such as combinations of antifungals,” Vinh said.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 22, 2022.

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